Design Innovation Paper

Design of a Dielectric Elastomer Cylindrical Actuator With Quasi-Constant Available Thrust: Modeling Procedure and Experimental Validation

[+] Author and Article Information
Giovanni Berselli

Enzo Ferrari Engineering Department,
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia,
Strada Vignolese 905, Modena 41125, Italy
e-mail: giovanni.berselli@unimore.it

Giovanni Scirè Mammano

Department of Engineering Sciences and Methods,
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia,
Via Amendola 2, Modena 42122, Italy
e-mail: giovanni.sciremammano@unimore.it

Eugenio Dragoni

Department of Engineering Sciences and Methods,
University of Modena and Reggio Emilia,
Via Amendola 2, Modena 42122, Italy
e-mail: eugenio.dragoni@unimore.it

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Innovation and Devices of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received February 8, 2014; final manuscript received August 6, 2014; published online October 20, 2014. Assoc. Editor: Oscar Altuzarra.

J. Mech. Des 136(12), 125001 (Oct 20, 2014) (11 pages) Paper No: MD-14-1107; doi: 10.1115/1.4028277 History: Received February 08, 2014; Revised August 06, 2014

A novel design for a dielectric elastomer (DE) actuator is presented. The actuator is obtained by coupling a cylindrical DE film with a series of slender beams axially loaded beyond their buckling limit. Similar to previous published solutions, where different actuator geometries were coupled with compliant mechanisms of various topologies, the elastic beams are designed so as to provide a suitable compensating force that allows obtaining a quasi-constant available thrust along the entire actuator stroke. Whilst the elastic beam are sized on the basis of an analytical procedure, the overall system performance is evaluated by means of multiphysics finite element (FE) analysis, accounting for the large deflection of the buckled-beam springs (BBSs) and for the DE material hyperelasticity. Numerical and experimental results are finally provided, which demonstrate the prediction capabilities of the proposed modeling method and confirm that well-behaved cylindrical actuators can be conceived and produced.

Copyright © 2014 by ASME
Topics: Actuators , Design , Thrust
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Fig. 2

Proposed solution concept. Actuator 3D model in deactivated state (a) and activated state (b). Flexible frame schematic (c).

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Fig. 3

Fz curves qualitatively showing the magnitudes of film force, Ff, and frame force, Fs, in case of positive (a) and negative (b) frame stiffness. Compressive frame forces are illustrated as positive.

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Fig. 5

N-BBS (a) and A-BBS (b) schematics. Adapted from Ref. [29].

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Fig. 6

Single cylindrical DE module

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Fig. 7

FE model mesh and contour plot of the radial displacement (for da = 0).

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Fig. 8

Contour plots of principal stretches λ1 (a) and λ2 (b)

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Fig. 9

Contour plots of the applied electric field at maximum, da = 0 (a) and minimum, da = 13.3 mm (b) actuator stroke

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Fig. 10

DE film Fz curves as function of actuator length z and applied voltage V

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Fig. 11

Fz curve concerning N-BBSs and A-BBSs pairs. Analytical and FE results.

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Fig. 12

FE axial-symmetric model of the compliant frame: deformed shape at full outstroke overlaid with undeformed N-BBS and A-BBS (dashed lines)

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Fig. 13

Assembly exploded view

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Fig. 14

“V” sockets layout

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Fig. 15

Active membrane production steps (a) and (b)

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Fig. 16

Actuator (a) and flexible frame prototypes (b)

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Fig. 17

Overall actuator Fz curves




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